“You can never have enough perspectives to consider”

Nadja Lissok from Cologne, Germany, works as an editor with local newspaper, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, and already has significant international experience. She tells us about her own time abroad and discusses the opportunities that the AGYO opens up for young people.

Nadja Lissok

Nadja Lissok, *1991, Cologne, Germany. Studied Politics and Sociology, with Spanish as her minor, in Bonn. Works as an editor with local newspaper, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

The interview

Nadja, you’ve travelled a lot and spent a lot of time abroad. What would you say were the valuable experiences?

It might sound like a bit of a cliché but when I was travelling across Central America, I found it a valuable experience to see that the people there were much more spontaneous than we Germans are. It’s a funny experience, of course, when we Germans get all flustered because the intercity bus is already more than half an hour late. And everyone else is just sitting at the bus stop, totally chilled, and chomping away on their packed meals.

What aspect of Team works! would interest you in particular?

It’s certainly always fascinating to see how people in a different country, or even a different culture group, approach the work that you do every day too. Particularly in my profession, journalism, you can never have enough perspectives to consider. If I want to tell our readers something about the world, it’s obviously good if I have as close a perspective as possible on the things I’m writing about. I imagine that journalists in some African countries often work in very different and worse conditions than us in terms of freedom of the press, income and so on. I’m sure you get to know a country in a very different way on a work assignment than you would as, for example, a tourist.

If you try to imagine exactly what your assignment might be like, what’s the first thing that springs to mind? Do you have any spontaneous associations or emotions?

I would definitely try to prepare as much as possible for the country I was going to, try and read as much as possible. So I wouldn’t turn up with a “take, take, take” attitude sort of like, “Here I am - tell me everything, show me everything.” I think you also need to be open and inquisitive so that you can immerse yourself quickly in the other culture. Once I’d done that, I’d want to look at what I could contribute during my assignment and what I could perhaps give to the people there so I wouldn’t just be taking.

What would you want to contribute?

I understand the programme to be about two-way exchange. So I’d explain how I work in Germany, how I obtain information and how I approach the stories I’m covering. And then I’d like to hear from my colleagues in Africa about how they do these things.

We live in a globalised world where almost all countries are linked with each other in some way. It’s very important for young people to be connected.

What would you like your work with your colleagues to be like?

I’d like us to work together as equals despite the short amount of time. I’d find it really interesting to learn a lot about the working conditions there. You should never make the mistake of travelling from Germany out into the world and thinking, “Everything is best back at home anyway and the only reason I’m visiting somewhere else is to confirm that.”

What would make your assignment a success in your eyes?

If I had a lot of fun, enjoyed myself, was able to learn something and spend time with cool people. And if I came away with something that would give me skills for my future career or that I could show here in Germany, like a certificate. A combination of the two would be perfect – developing professionally and coming away with good personal experiences.

The German government has set up the Youth Office with the aim of promoting dialogue between young people from Germany and the African continent. Do you think that’s an important aim?

I think it’s really important. We live in a globalised world where almost all countries are linked with each other in some way. It’s very important for young people to be connected. Because, ideally, at some point there will be a new generation in the driving seat – a generation with the courage to approach things with a new and different mindset.